BLM cancels 15 Devon leases in Montana to preserve tribal area

The US Bureau of Land Management has canceled 15 federal leases held by Devon Energy Corp. in the Badger-Two Medicine area of the Lewis and Clark National Forest in northwestern Montana. The leases were issued in the 1980s and have not been drilled. Devon will receive about $200,000 as a refund of all the rents and bonus bids it paid, the US Department of the Interior said on Nov. 16.

The Badger-Two Medicine Area covers 130,000 acres along the Rocky Mountain Front within the Lewis and Clark National Forest, which the USFS oversees. BLM manages oil and gas leases within US national forests for the US Department of Agriculture agency.

Glacier National Park, the Bob Marshall Wilderness, and the Blackfeet Indian Reservation surround the area, which the tribe considers sacred and is part of a recognized Traditional Cultural District. These characteristics caused Congress to legislatively withdraw the area from mineral development in 2006, DOI said.

The cancellation follows USFS and Advisory Council on Historic Preservation recommendations, and concerns expressed by the tribe and other interested parties, DOI said. It noted that BLM canceled a lease in the area in March that Solonex LLC held after finding that it had been improperly issued. DOI said that only two leases remain in the area after the Nov. 16 announcement.

Contact Nick Snow at nicks@pennwell.com.

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